Knowing if and when you need to let go of an artist is a difficult decision that no one likes to make. However, sometimes it's a necessary choice when creative differences, a lack of focus, or opposing viewpoints exist. Here are five things to consider when you feel that your relationship with an artist is no longer benefitting either party.
You're not feeling the Mojo
Maybe you were once excited about this artist, but they’ve gone in a direction that doesn’t jibe with your tastes. This can be particularly problematic if you manage within a specific genre and that artist now falls outside of that – if you’re an Americana manager who suddenly finds yourself with a Doom Metal band on your hands, it may be time to take stock. It’s always better to be up front, professional, and honest — don’t forget you may need these contacts in the future. You’re not helping yourself by burning any bridges.
They don’t take business seriously
It’s hard to manage a band that’s hard to manage – that may mean they don’t show up on time for gigs or blow off important interviews you set up. Or maybe they don’t show up prepared for photo sessions with the right wardrobe. Perhaps they drink too much and say inappropriate things at shows, or treat their fans poorly. Either way, it will become readily apparent that they aren’t taking what they do seriously, and by extension making your job a hundred times harder. This may be an easier pill to swallow if it’s a major, top flight act, but if they haven’t earned the right to act like a diva, it’s time to cut them loose.
They don’t take direction well
This is a huge issue – if you’re a manager, you’re supposed to guide them. Your experience and insight should be the driving force behind them, helping them navigate the difficult world of the music industry. You have your finger on the pulse – in theory, anyway – and should be able to tell them what image, sound, etc. are most desirable these days. It’s natural for a band to have their own sense of self – even important – but they should be able to listen respectfully and come to some sort of compromise with you. Even the Beatles – one of the greatest bands in history – had to compromise by letting go of their original drummer.
There's nothing to manage
Maybe the band has everything right – the look, the sound, and the willingness to be coached. But maybe they’re just not ready for a manager yet – perhaps they haven’t even put out an album, or haven’t built a fanbase yet. Unless you’re willing to devote an inordinate amount of time (as in, they’re one of your only acts), the band may not be ready for you just yet. Time to part ways (or back burner them) until they’ve grown a bit.
It's not you, it's me
Maybe your firm grew too big, too fast – maybe you’ve got more acts than you can handle right now (which is a good thing). It may be time to let some of your acts go so you can focus more time on the rest of your roster – even the best manager, when spread too thin, can start to lose their touch. Look carefully at your roster – are you able to devote an appropriate amount of time to everyone and still have time for yourself to recharge? If not, see if there isn’t an act that is underperforming, being a thorn in your side, or just one you’re not feeling it with anymore. It’s perfectly okay to end things on an amicable note – maybe down the road you’ll be able to devote more time, or they’ll be in a different place and more ready for you.